What you should know about LGBT assisted living
Whether you’re looking for a retirement community to live in as a couple, assisted living, skilled elderly care or nursing home services, this guide helps LGBT people find the right resource for your situation.
What you’ll find here:
- Unique LGBT needs and concerns regarding nursing homes
- The growing number of LGBT people becoming seniors
- Differences and similarities: assisted living facilities vs nursing homes facilities vs retirement communities
- Assisted living facilities for LGBT people
- Financial planning for assisted living
- Tips tools, resources for LGBT assisted living
Hear all about LGBT assisted living from Tony Ramos:
On this episode of Queer Money®, you’ll hear from Tony Ramos, executive director of Alta Prime Assisted Living. Located in Colorado, Alta Prime is an LGBT-friendy assisted living facility using converted single-family homes to house residents.
Unique LGBT needs and concerns regarding nursing homes
When looking for an assisted living facility or nursing home, there are challenges unique to the LGBT community. Here, we discuss some of the most common needs and concerns that come up as LGBT people start to age and may need more care or assistance.
1. Most live alone and may not have children
According to an AARP survey on older LGBT adults, gay men are more likely to be single and live alone than lesbians. Of the over 1,700 community members sampled, 57% of gay men were single compared to 43% of lesbians and 27% married compared to 39% of lesbians.
As for living alone, 46% of gay men and 36% of lesbians responded that they live alone. When it comes to having children, bisexual community members responded with the highest numbers at 59% with gender-expansive coming in fairly close at 53 %. Lesbian women were next at 43% and gay men came in at the lowest with just 19% having children.
With these numbers, it’s not surprising that the need for assisted living has increased among LGBT people. Luckily, people like Tony are making it their mission to create more accessible housing.
Even if you’re single and don’t have children of your own, living in a shared community space as you age can help combat loneliness and provide a sense of family.
2. Less retirement savings
Workplace discrimination, making less doing the same jobs, and not saving adequately are just a few of the reasons that those in the LGBTQ community have less in retirement savings than their heterosexual peers.
The inability to advance in careers and losing jobs due to inequality can put a damper on saving the recommended $1.7 million needed for a comfortable retirement. Add that in with the statistics of community members living alone, without children and a familial safety net, and it’s no wonder that 29% of respondents in an LGBT Experian survey are greatly concerned about their financial future in retirement.
Listen to this Queer Money® to learn more about Experian’s LGBT Money Study:
Fortunately, there are several amazing tools to help you build the retirement savings you’ll need.
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Luckily, we’ve got more resources for you to use that can help you create a solid retirement foundation. Make sure you check out the resource list at the end to help you get there.
3. Rising healthcare costs
Discrimination in the LGBT community is not just in the workplace, but also a reality when it comes to healthcare. Though this group is a protected class under the Affordable Care Act, members of the community still face healthcare discrimination.
In a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, over half of the 3,453 LGBTQ members polled have experienced discrimination, comments or slurs in a healthcare setting (most often, doctor’s office or hospital visits).
Additionally, community members who make less than their hetero peers are less likely to be able to afford healthcare premiums. This, coupled with the potentials for discrimination and fear of a lower quality of care, reduces the likelihood of seeing a doctor altogether. For those who are able to be seen, the concern is high about the affordability of copays, testing, and prescriptions.
Myles Ma of PolicyGenius share more about what ACA means to LGBT people:
While subsidies exist through the ACA which help offset the cost of healthcare, a repeal or amendment could reduce the number of community members who can afford premiums or to pay out of pocket for health costs. A change could also eliminate discrimination protections, reducing LGBTQ’s access to healthcare even further.
The same subsidies and protections provided by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid have also likely driven up the cost of health insurance for the general community.
You don’t have to go it alone with healthcare anymore.
1. Try GoHealth for health insurance
GoHealth makes Searching for and finding affordable health insurance easier than ever. After you answer some quick questions, GoHealth will research hundreds of health insurance providers a provide a shortlist of options, based on yours and your family’s needs.
Long term care insurance (LTCI) can be a way to offset the higher costs of health insurance as you age. There are limits to how you can use it, but for those who have it, long term care insurance can be the answer to help pay for medical care and facility costs later in life.
The growing number of LGBT people becoming seniors
As the population ages, more people will be turning 65 at a faster rate than previous generations.
More LGBT elders turning 65 within the next 10 years
Statistics from SAGE show that by 2030, there could be as many as 7 million predicted LGBT elders (over 50).
As the amount of elders continues to increase, a reduction in housing discrimination and availability of LGBT-friendly housing is needed more than ever. The numbers continue to climb at an ever-growing rate, can the struggling housing market for LGBT people keep up!
SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative is working hard to ensure enough housing for the ever-increasing aging LGBT population including:
- Education on housing rights
- Cultural training for eldercare providers
- Duplication of LGBT-friendly housing to attract builders
Over 2 million LGBT seniors currently 60 or older
The American Psychological Association estimates 2.4 million of LGBT already 65, though some sources state this figure is as low as 1.1 million. Regardless, the number of LGBT already 65 or older is large and is expected to more than triple over the next decade.
The realities of discrimination in housing and healthcare as well as the need for wider sweeping rights and access has never been more important.
If you aren’t taking a serious look at your retirement, now is the time. The younger you are, the more time you have to save for the future. Here are some tips Tony provides in his episode:
- Invest in a home
- Stay informed on the available facilities and options as you age (costs, criteria, location, etc)
- Consider long term care insurance
- Research the benefits of marriage (if this is an option)
- Understand social security benefits and availability
22 LGBTQ-friendly nursing homes
Currently, there are just 22 LGBT-friendly retirement communities in the United States. o find where each facility is located, criteria to move in and services are broken down by state. This post will continue to be updated as new communities are added.
The realities of housing discrimination
A SAGE study indicates that 48% of LGBTQ elders have faced some sort of housing discrimination in their lifetime. This, unfortunately, is a fear for many, and with good reason. Especially for those who don’t have their own advocate in a partner or spouse.
Some states have acted, creating laws to protect the most vulnerable. The Fair and Equal Housing Act prohibits discrimination in regard to gender identity and sexual orientation. This Act has been made into law in 21 states and the District of Columbia so far. You can find out which states have this housing protection here.
Differences and similarities: assisted living facilities vs nursing homes facilities vs retirement communities
Are you unsure about how an assisted living facility is different from a nursing home? Curious about how retirement communities work?
Here, all your questions have been answered. Let’s go over the differences and similarities between these offerings.
Definitions for LGBT senior housing
- Assisted living facilities are similar to community centers. Elders do not need round-the-clock care but may need assistance with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs).
- Nursing homes may also be called skilled or unskilled care. They offer both medical and personal care, focusing more on medical care. Residents typically need round the clock care but are not so unwell that they need to be hospitalized.
- Retirement communities are sometimes called independent living facilities. Here, people live on their own in an apartment or home without the need for assistance or medical care.
LGBT senior housing accommodations
LGBT residents in assisted living usually live in an apartment or separate room with common space to share within the facility. The size can vary based on location, accommodating as few as 25 to well over 100 residents.
Nursing home residents tend to stay temporarily until they are able to go home or live out the rest of their life in the facility. The home has more of a clinical feel and may even look like a hospital. Residents will have a shared room; a single room is more costly but may be accommodated depending on the facility.
Retirement communities are set up much like an all-age community, allowing residents to live separately (can live with a roommate or spouse) in a home or apartment. Depending on the community, there may be a shared common space to provide opportunities for socializing with other residents. Maintenance, housekeeping, transportation, meals, and utilities may be provided, usually at an additional cost to the resident.
Types of services for LGBT seniors
The types of services offered in each type of facility can vary greatly depending on the level of care needed and how much can be afforded by the resident. This can range from 24-hour, on-site security to medication administration to dining services and everything in between. Each facility is slightly different. Thus, it’s advisable to determine the types of services you or your LGBT-loved one needs, then find the most suitable senior housing.
1. Dementia care
For those LGBT elders who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, there’s care available in assisted living or nursing home facilities.
2. Activities of daily living (ADLs)
LGBT-friendly assisted living and nursing home facilities will offer assistance with completing one or more of the six basic ADLs:
3. Nursing care
LGBT nursing care can include dispensing medication, transportation to doctor’s appointments, wound care and memory care. Residents of nursing homes or in assisted living may need help with nursing care temporarily or permanently, depending on their personal situation.
One of the benefits of living in an LGBT retirement community is that maintenance may be included in the monthly costs, though some will charge separately. This can include home maintenance such as housekeeping, plumbing, HVAC services, lawn care, laundry services, etc. Grounds are also maintained in facilities, and some will even have tended garden areas for residents to enjoy.
All three types of living arrangements could have one or more of the following types of activities for residents as an opportunity to keep their mind sharp and combat boredom:
- Educational programs
- Movie theaters
- Art spaces
- Organized recreational activities
- Wellness programs
Activities and offerings will differ by the facility and could include others not listed.
6. Emergency call systems
Most assisted living and nursing homes will have systems in place in both common and private areas, available around the clock so that LGBT residents who need assistance can get it. This may be offered in some independent living communities, as well.
Security is especially important for those who live alone. Security is there during the day time and some facilities will have coverage 24/7. Residents can feel secure in knowing that there are security guards keeping them safe.
Some 55+ LGBT retirement communities will also have security patrols monitoring the neighborhood to make sure no one should be there that doesn’t live there or wasn’t invited by a resident.
8. Inclusivity of couples
Nursing homes typically don’t allow LGB T or straight couples to live together in the same room. This is mostly due to the medical care needed, and unless your spouse also needs skilled care, they will have to live elsewhere.
LGBT retirement communities do accept couples and assisted living communities can as well, though it will depend on the specific community. You can learn more about the inclusivity of couples for the different types of retirement communities here.
9. Daily activities/lifestyle
People are admitted to assisted living facilities because they’re unable to perform one or more of the ADLs and need assistance. Their quality of life can improve by having this assistance, while also reducing isolation and loneliness through social activities like playing games, music and art programs, and other social activities meant to bring residents together.
Recreational activities can also be available, including sports, movie theaters, gyms, libraries, pools, etc. Medication management is also provided by staff members to ensure proper dosage and people are taking what they should when they should.
Some facilities may also offer educational and cultural programs as part of their social activities. Fall prevention and memory care programs may also be available for those who need it.
10. Required certifications/qualifications
Each nursing home facility must have Medicare certification and accreditation to operate. Inspections are performed on a regular basis, though criteria is different for each state. Registered nurses (RNs) provide assessments and plans of care for residents and are required to have either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, plus pass a state licensing exam which is renewed every other year.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) offer skilled medical care (wound dressing, medication management, etc) and are required to complete an accredited program designed for LPNs. They are also state-licensed with renewal requirements every other year.
Like nursing homes, assisted living also called shared housing residential care, must be certified and accredited through Medicare. There are also requirements that must be met for residential agreements, acceptance, discharge, and procedures in place approved by the state for staffing and training.
RNs and LPNs follow the same schooling and licensure as nursing homes, and executive directors are certified as well. Each state varies with the requirements needed, which can be found here.
Retirement communities are set up as determined by the type of requirements needed. Communities with multiple units in one building or offering included amenities may have to be certified through the state to call itself a 55 and over the community. This certification means affordable housing, controlled rent increases, low taxes, low crime, etc. to attract elders to its community location.
There is a common set of rules and regulations that members have to agree to, regardless if they are living in single-family or multi-unit housing. Residents will have to certify that they are 55 or older and the property manager is required to keep at least 80 percent of residents in that age group, sometimes more depending on the state.
Which is more expensive?
According to Genworth, nursing home costs are going to be the most expensive due to the level of medical care needed by residents. A private room can cost upwards of $10,000 or more per month.
Comparing the cost of assisted living to retirement communities can vary by location, amenities and services offered. Monthly costs could be as low as $2,500 or more than $6,000, according to a 2019 AARP study, with a national average of $3,600 monthly.
Retirement communities can also vary in cost and again are based on location and amenities offered. According to Seniorhomes.com, the elderly can expect to pay as little as $500 per month or well over $8,000 monthly to live in an independent living community.
Assisted living facilities for LGBT people
Most retirement communities for LGBT are for those elders who are able to live independently without the need for medical care. However, there are two LGBT-friendly communities in California that offer assisted living: Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa and Stonewall Gardens in Palm Springs.
1. Stonewall Gardens
The Stonewall Gardens facility has 24/7 staffing so that residents are never alone. They house the LGBT community exclusively, so you don’t have to worry about discrimination or having to hide your true self.
Most amenities are rolled into the monthly costs and include, but aren’t limited to:
- Assistance with ADLs
- Medication management
- Roll-in showers
- All meals
- Social activities
- Weekly housekeeping and linen services
2. Fountaingrove Lodge
Fountaingrove Lodge boasts many of the same amenities and services as Stonewall Gardens, Fountaingrove Lodge provides a luxurious experience for their LGBTQ residents. Pets are allowed here and can be taken care of for an additional cost.
Also available for residents: errands and grocery shopping, spa facilities, fitness center, salon, movie theater, wine cave, and a heated outdoor swimming pool, just to name a few.
The idea is that residents never have to leave the grounds unless they want (and are able) to.
Lesbian retirement communities
Right now, there are only three lesbian-specific retirement communities that we are aware of. While it’s a shortlist, the hope is that this community offering will expand if interest increases. To find those lesbian retirement communities, please visit this page.
LGBT retirement communities
While the amount of retirement communities for the LGBT community crowd isn’t expansive, there are still options open in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Check the listings here to learn more about each community to find the right fit for you.
Costs of assisted living
Now that we’ve discussed the differences between the types of elder care facilities, let’s look at typical monthly expenses for assisted living.
Average monthly costs
According to Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the national average cost for assisted living is $4,051. These numbers can vary greatly depending on where you live and the services you require.
Medicare does not cover long-term care services, including assisted living. Medicaid does cover long term care services and it’s estimated that one in six Medicaid recipients use their benefits to pay for part or all of their assisted living costs.
Financial planning for assisted living
With the high costs of assisted living, what can you do to be in a better place financially, in case you find yourself needing care?
Financial planning for retirement is a top priority for LGBT people, but studies show that we don’t trust traditional financial services because we assume, based on history, that financial services professionals either don’t know how to work with us or don’t want to work with us. But, studies also show that people who use a financial planner have more money in retirement. So, what’s a queer person to do?
Fortunately, we worked with GuideVine to create a seamless way for queer people to find queer and ally advisors. With GuideVine, you can fully vet a prospective advisor, including meeting them virtually on video, long before stepping foot into an office.
To learn more about GuideVine and their great pool of financial advisors, click this link here.
Here’s what you need to have saved and invested in the event you need assisted living at some point in your life.
What’s the minimum I need to save to move into assisted living?
Moving into an assisted living facility will cost on average $80,000 per year. That number increases to over $100,000 for initialized care and $120,000 or more for specialized care.
With these staggering numbers, is it any wonder that planning for retirement is so important? If you fear that you’re too late to start planning for retirement, listen to this episode of Queer Money® featuring Teresa Mears from Living on the Cheap.
Hear Teresa talk about late-stage retirement planning:
Click here for more resources to help you create an action plan to have the retirement you want.
Steps I should take if I’m an LGBT senior who needs or wants assisted living and has little money?
Paying for assisted living as a senior with little money can be tough. Depending on your situation, you may have more options than other LGBT elders in the same position.
If you’re a veteran, you may have access to benefits to defray the costs. If you own your home and don’t plan to return, selling it could be an option. If there’s a possibility of returning, you might consider renting it out if you own the home outright to use the income for assisted living costs.
Touring different facilities can help determine which fits your needs and budget best. You could also consider getting a roommate to split the costs. If you have life insurance, there may also be ways you can access some of the coverage amounts to pay for assisted living costs.
Tips tools, resources for LGBT assisted living
How Tony gained an interest in senior residential care
- Helping grandmother explore options
- Heart for ‘taking care of our own’
- Experience in hotel management
How Alta Prime is different from other facilities
- Converted single-family home
- More oversight in a smaller setting
- One-on-one care and customization
The cost of senior residential care
- $80,000/year average for an assisted care facility
- $8-10,000/month for institutional facility ($12-15,000 for specialized care)
- Traditional health insurance does not help cover the cost
- Long-term care plans offset some expenses
The financial advantage of a smaller residential facility
- Less expensive than institutional care
- Shortage of availability of Medicaid homes
How long people stay in assisted living facilities
- Varies by home, specialization
- The average stay of two to three years
The difference between assisted living facilities and nursing homes
- Assisted living provides 24/7 concierge service, may use outside vendors to deliver medical care
- Nursing homes offer 24/7 medical care
The clients served at Alta Prime
- 65 and older
- Need help with bathing, cooking
- Parkinson’s patients
The standard services available at an Alta Prime facility
- 24/7 supervision
- 3 nutritional meals, hydration, and snacks throughout the day
- Medication administration
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Bathing, getting ready
- Social activities
- Exercise to minimize dementia risk
- Excursions (e.g.: Rockies game)
- ‘Spoil the seniors’
- Come and go as they please
The availability of LGBT exclusive senior residential facilities in the US
- Only a handful in the nation
- Fountain Grove Lodge, Stonewall Gardens, Rainbow Vision, Birds of a Feather, Triangle Square
The unique needs of the older LGBT community
- Some still dealing with HIV
- Limiting beliefs
- Fear of isolation, loneliness
The numbers around the aging LGBT population
- Three million in the LGBT community over 55
- Will double in next 20 years
- 51% of the older LGBT community concerned about financial future
- 2/3 of older trans people worry about being denied access to medical treatment
- 24% of older LGBT people of color have experienced housing discrimination
- 71% of LGBT population scared won’t have money for a happy retirement
The discrimination of LGBT seniors in residential care facilities
- Testimony of aging seniors regarding discrimination, isolation
- Verbal abuse from staff, other residents
- Some cases of physical abuse
Tony’s suggestions around preparing for retirement
- Planning is crucial
- Research available services, funding access
- Consider long-term care insurance
- Acquire retirement vehicle [i.e.: Roth IRA, 401(k)]
- Build wealth by investing in a home
- Explore Social Security benefits at MassMutual.com/social-security
- Study the financial benefits of marriage
Why Tony is passionate about caring for LGBT seniors
- Celebrate by giving space to share lives, stories
- Grateful for strength, the resilience of an older generation
Connect with Tony Ramos of Alta Prime Assisted Living
- Alta Prime Website
- (720) 810-4279
Gay retirement communities
Gay retirement communities in California
- Fountaingrove Lodge
- Stonewall Gardens Assisted Living
- Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing
- North Park Senior Apartments
Gay retirement communities in Florida
- The Resort on Carefree Boulevard
- The Palms of Manasota
- Wilton Manors
Gay retirement communities in New York
- Crotona Senior Residences
- Ingersoll Senior Residences
Resources on LGBT assisted living
- Your 5-Step Early Retirement Plan
- 21 Financial Planning Retirement Tips
- 9 Late-stage Retirement Planning Tips
- Queer Money™ Ep 54: Benefits of Marriage
- Queer Money® Ep 26: 9 Affordable Care Act Facts for Open Enrollment
- The Magic Money Calculator
- National LBGT Housing Initiative
- Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey
- MassMutual Long Term Care Insurance
- Project Visibility: Person-Centered Care for LGBT Older Adults
Mandy Sleight is a professional freelance writer who also provides editing and proofreading services to a broad range of clients. Due to her tremendous experience, her work has been featured in Kiplinger, Market Watch, Money Geek, and other major publications. If you want to contact Mandy, you can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn, or by reaching out on her website contact page.